Thai­land is­sues war­rant for ‘for­eign’ bomb sus­pect

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOCELYN GECKER AND NAT­TA­SUDA ANUSONADISAI

Po­lice in Thai­land is­sued an ar­rest war­rant on Wed­nes­day for an “uniden­ti­fied for­eign man” shown in a se­cu­rity video leav­ing be­hind a back­pack just min­utes be­fore a deadly bomb­ing at a Bangkok shrine, but ac­knowl­edged they’re not sure of his na­tion­al­ity.

Po­lice also re­leased a sketch of the man they be­lieve car­ried out Mon­day’s bomb­ing and of­fered a 1 mil­lion baht ( US$ 28,000) re­ward for help lead­ing to his ar­rest. But apart from the rough por­trait, author­i­ties had few solid leads.

At a news con­fer­ence ear­lier in the day, the na­tional po­lice chief ex­pressed un­cer­tainty about the man’s ori­gin. Somyot Poom­pan­moung said the sus­pect “looks like a for­eigner” but “might have been in a dis­guise and wear­ing a fake nose” to con­ceal his iden­tity.

Two days af­ter the at­tack, which author­i­ties have called the worst in Thai history, the ope­nair Erawan Shrine re­opened to the public. No one has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast that left 20 peo­ple dead and more than 120 in­jured at one of the cap­i­tal’s busiest in­ter­sec­tions dur­ing evening rush hour.

A grainy se­cu­rity video shows the man, wear­ing a yel­low T- shirt and shorts, sit­ting on a bench at the shrine, tak­ing off a black back­pack and leav­ing it be­hind as he stands up and then walks away. Time stamps on the video show he left the shrine 15 min­utes be­fore the ex­plo­sion, which struck just be­fore 7 p.m.

“If cit­i­zens or any­one can give us in­for­ma­tion or clues that lead to the ar­rest of this man, I have set a re­ward of 1 mil­lion baht,” Somyot said, adding that po­lice be­lieve the bomber worked with ac­com­plices.

“It’s a Net­work”

“He didn’t do it alone, for sure. It’s a net­work,” Somyot said. Po­lice spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Tha­vorn­siri said the se­cu­rity video ap­pears to show two pos­si­ble ac­com­plices stand­ing in front of the man who are also con­sid­ered sus­pects.

Po­lice com­posed the sketch based on the video and a de­scrip­tion pro­vided by a mo­tor­cy­cle taxi driver be­lieved to have given him a ride on Mon- day night.

The sketch shows a young man in eye­glasses with bushy, dark hair that is cropped at the sides. The war­rant de­scribes him as tall, with a pointed nose and thick lips. He faces six charges in­clud­ing con­spir­ing to com­mit pre­med­i­tated mur­der and con­spir­ing to com­mit a bomb­ing that re­sulted in death and se­vere in­juries.

The at­tack has raised con­cerns about safety in a city that draws mil­lions of tourists.

The Erawan Shrine is a revered spot among Thais and tourists that tran­scends re­li­gion. It is ded­i­cated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is ex­tremely pop­u­lar among Thai­land’s Bud­dhists as well as Chi­nese tourists.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, a stream of peo­ple ar­rived at the shrine, kneel­ing in prayer, light­ing in­cense and plac­ing flow­ers at the site where 36 hours ear­lier the ex­plo­sion scat­tered body parts across one of the cap­i­tal’s busiest in­ter­sec­tions. Bud­dhist monks in saf­fron robes joined mem­bers of the public to chant prayers.

Among those who paid re­spects was an of­fice worker, Nuan­supha Sarun­sikarin, who ex­pressed shock and sad­ness over the at­tack.

“I’m de­pressed for those in­no­cent peo­ple who had to pay for some­thing they’re not in­volved with and now have no chance to live their lives,” Nuan­supha said.

AP

(Left) Dam­age is vis­i­ble on the statue of Phra Phrom, which is the Thai in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Hindu god Brahma, af­ter Mon­day’s bomb­ing at the Erawan Shrine at Ra­jpra­song in­ter­sec­tion in Bangkok, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 19. (Right) This im­age re­leased by the Royal Thai Po­lice on Wed­nes­day shows a de­tailed sketch of the main sus­pect in a bomb­ing that killed a num­ber peo­ple at the Erawan shrine in down­town Bangkok on Mon­day.

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